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Blasphemy referendum expected in Ireland

03 October 2014

IRISH CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

THE Irish government seems set to hold a referendum on removing the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution and replacing it with a more general provision covering incitement to religious hatred.

The Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald, brought the proposal to the Cabinet on Tuesday, after recommendations from a constitutional convention some months ago which indicated that a clear majority of its members were in favour of the change.

The convention concluded: "The issue is regarded by many of those who made submissions as part of a much wider debate, including the role of God and religion in the Constitution, and the separation of Church and State."

Referendums are planned on same-sex marriage, and reducing the voting age from 18 to 16 years, and it is understood that the blasphemy issue will be added to the list. The referendum is likely to take place next spring.

If, as is likely, the proposal is carried, detailed legislation will then follow.

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